Don’t Hold Your Breath 

     
Another one of my dating mantras has been the saying, “don’t hold your breath”. It is as true for dating as it is for any other hopeful scenario you might apply it towards in your life; a new job possibility, a raise or even a friend changing their negative ways. When I say “don’t hold your breath” in regards to dating, it’s probably not in the sense that you would think I am using it for. I don’t mean it in situations such as when you’re sitting at Starbucks with your girlfriend ogling the sexy man-candy that is handcrafting your skinny vanilla latte and your gal pal says “don’t hold your breath; he’s way out of your league.” Nor do I mean it in the sense that “don’t hold your breath, he will never change.” I have repeated this saying to myself numerous times and it generally follows me allowing my hopeless-romantic-self’s, eager-beaver hopes to soar sky high.   

          Let me elaborate by example. There have been countless times when I have found myself sitting on edge waiting for a boy; waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for a text, a call, an invitation, an opening, a complement, a comforting gesture and typically, this ends in disappointment. I was always the type of girl who would drop everything and anything for a boy. I was at his disposal whenever he was available and willing. I was the “you say jump, I find a pogo stick and get to jumpin” kinda gal for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, it took me an incredibly long time to realize that I was this girl.
          However, when I became painfully aware that I had the whole “damsel in distress” thing spilling out of my pores, I vowed to make a change. The process to change myself in such a way was not a simple endeavor. It in fact was a lot of trial and error and a whole bunch of that self-actualization and realization stuff. It took me months of calling myself out on being the pansy that I was to figure out that I couldn’t just get angry at myself every time I had a moment of weakness but that I had to step back and understand two things; the why and then the how.
           The why plays a huge part in our behavior and actions. As I explained previously, I wasn’t raised with a steady male role model in my life; I was actually raised with the polar opposite. I did not have a knight in shining armor father to come rescue me when a boy pushed me on the playground or to threaten my first boyfriend when he picked me up for a date. I was never a daddy’s girl who was adorned with compliments and pick-me-ups when I had a bad day or even a dad’s hug before bedtime. I was not raised with a stellar example on how a man should treat a woman and what a woman should or should not take from a man. Instead, I hold memories of men who came, conquered and abandoned and women who allowed this to happen. It is no wonder why I was the kind of girl who deeply craved a man’s love, affection and attention and would do nearly anything for it.   
          After I was able to understand the daunting and traumatic why, I had the difficult task of figuring out the how. The “how do I stop being such a dramatic woe is me Disney Princess and become the independent woman I want to be?” Wow! That’s a lot more complex than just asking how isn’t it? The answer didn’t come easy, trust me. I talked to a lot of people about it, especially my female friends. This was the wrong place to go let me tell you. The majority of my girlfriends were unknowingly going through the same thing as I was and no one really knew what to do. In fact, a lot of my girlfriends didn’t really care about the why or the how; they were okay being all damsel-y. I was not. I talked to my mom about it multiple times and received the same answer I always did, “You need to learn to play the game.” To which I ever so politely responded “No thanks, I don’t play games. I just want to find real love. Real love isn’t a game.”
          Although I still do one hundred percent stand behind that final statement, I am not so naïve to think that real love doesn’t involve mind-trickery to a certain extent. I am not so sure that I would call them games but it is that very word that spiraled me towards my solution; my how. I sat and thought about it for a very long time on many occasions. I asked myself questions like, “Do guys really play games? Is that what dating is about? How does one learn to play said game?” Then I took a step back and surveyed my current situation, applied it to my dilemma and hark!
          The current situation I was struggling with was in regards to me wanting to be (and so being) overly-available to any man whom I was involved with at the time and the solution I was seeking was basically how to want to not be so available. The connection I made between my situation and the “game” is that the guys that I was communicating with at the time talked to me very sporadically and were quite flakey. He would say were hanging out, I would get excited, he would bail, I would crumble. This was essentially the chain of events. I enjoyed their company and the attention and I was more than likely harboring some feelings for them. So, because they were not available all of the time at my disposal, I made myself become available all of the time just in case. This is sad and horrible, but many people do it, both boys and girls. I constantly questioned myself, their intentions, my intentions, our intentions and ultimately our “status”. “Why doesn’t he want to spend time with me?”, “If he’s not responding, what is he doing?”, “Who is he with?” and so on. This opened the flood gates essentially and inadvertently let Hell loose on my poor impressionable brain. The conclusion I came to is quite simple; people are and should be, busy.
          Yes! Busy. So what appears to be a game of “I’m going to wait twenty minutes to text you back this time and then respond with one word just to see what you’ll do” isn’t actually a game at all. It is drama that we as females create in our own minds because well, were excellent at it I suppose. In a day and age when texting has become the main source of communication and we have literally everything at the touch of a button, we want answers, responses and explanations immediately. We seek the same thing out of relationships; instant gratification. But honey, it just doesn’t work that way, it can’t. Everything worth having is worth not waiting for, but working for. So, instead of sitting around wondering why he’s not responding to you or asking you out, you have to do some self-actualization and realization and figure out who you are and what you want. Do something to make yourself busy. Find a new hobby, take an extra class, become dedicated to your health, become dedicated to anything except that guy! Then, you will have the opportunity to show him what waiting feels like, not because it’s a game and you are being spiteful, but because you are genuinely involved in your own life. Do not be the Rappunzel sitting at the top of a tower waiting for Prince Charming to come save you, he may be too busy working or getting an education. Meanwhile, you will be twiddling your thumbs and brushing your long golden locks getting nowhere but upset and full of self disdain. “Don’t hold your breath” for another person because you might find yourself passing out.

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Realization is Harder Than It Sounds

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I think the majority of people when they reach a certain age, look back on their lives and contemplate their mistakes, choices and possibly regrets and say, “If I only knew then what I know now.” If I put all 10 of my fingers and 10 of my toes together and add all 10 fingers and 10 toes of every person I know, I still don’t think the number would amount to how many times I have said this exact phrase to myself in the past few years. Reading the diary of my 6th grade self, I cannot help but to envy the life I once had. It was surely simpler times. There are days I would even trade my current self for my high school self and that’s saying a lot!

Yet, there is a big part of me that is just recently beginning to feel proud of the woman I am becoming. I have made my fair share of mistakes and have held on to quite a few regrets in my rather short lifetime, but I am slowly yet surely figuring out who I am and embracing the mishaps that have shaped me. It has also taken me quite some time to be able to say that last sentence. I used to say that I am accepting the mistakes I have made and learning to let them go. However, upon discovering myself, I have discovered that I love the woman I am and I would be nowhere near as strong, brave or independent as I am without my so called mistakes. I had to mentally inform myself that I am no longer going to call them mistakes or attempt to let go of my “regrets” but I am going to embrace the mishaps. This is a big step for any person let alone a young woman.

I am a 26 year old on the brink of being another year older. I have spent the last year of my life reflecting upon the past 25 years of it. In this time, I have not only begun to find myself but I have made some discoveries into my past. I did a lot of self-actualization over the past year. One day I sat down and wrote all of the things about myself that I know to be true whether they be facts or just words. From doing this, I made a major discovery about myself and let me just tell you, my mind has been both boggled and blown! I am messy, passionate, helpful, compassionate, independent, dependant, organized, unmotivated, full of dreams, empty, powerful, respectful, sailor-mouthed, calm, quiet, loud, loving, giving and needy. I realized that I am so many things. As humans, we have the capacity to be more than one thing at a time. We have the ability to be loving and hateful in the exact same moment. We can live an incredibly messy life and still color-coordinate our closets. We can be in love with another person and despise them just the same. We are complex, confusing and over-whelmingly frustrating beings.

This is such a simple thought and something that I am sure a lot of people are aware of. For me, it was a major breakthrough. Along with the realization that I am more than one thing, I realized that I can do more than one thing. Throughout my life I have struggled with many things but one thing in particular, “What in the hell am I going to do with my life?” I made a list for this question as well: makeup artist, psychologist, writer, chef, social worker, stay at home mom, cat lady, esthetician, live-in nanny, psychiatrist, professional student etc. The list went on believe me. So came the realization process. I can be and will be more than one thing. I do not need to decide on one thing to be for the rest of my life. I am good enough being what I am now and when I am ready, I will be more. It is little moments like this that I live for. Little moments when something so obvious and menial finally clicks in my brain and I feel as though the heavens have opened and the massive weight of the world has jumped off my shoulders and I finally have a little bit of piece and quite in my own mind.

Another thing that I realized from every single list that I have ever made about myself is the one that did all of the mind boggling and blowing. Nowhere in any of my lists did I ever say, “Talented”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, “sexy” or even “pretty”. Nor did I list “Americas Next Top Model” or “body building competitor” as a future career. This didn’t just say something to me, it freaking screamed something at me! My life can be as confused and messy as it wants. I may not know what I want to be until I am thirty. My laundry will stay in a pile for over a week and I will continue to despise my job. But nothing will ever change in my life until I learn to love myself, and when I say love myself, I mean I need to fall head over heels in love with the person I am because I am stuck with me forever. Talk about a serious commitment. I don’t even get a ring!

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